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Americas Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen is a popular cooking show aired across various public television channels in the United States and  watched by over 2 million viewers. It is hosted by Christopher Kimball, the founder of Cook’s Magazine. The show is different from other cookery shows as it features not only interesting recipes, but also solutions to everyday cooking problems, reviews on cooking equipment and supermarket ingredients.

 

History

 

America’s Test Kitchen was first aired in 2001, airing 13 episodes and has continued to be a popular show till date. From 2002, the second season upto Season 12 in 2012, each of the seasons telecast 26 episodes on the show. The show was conceptualized by Christopher Kimball, featuring various recipes from different categories, published in the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Christopher Kimball presents the show, and a team of other chefs actually demonstrate the cooking on the show. America’s Test Kitchen is a real kitchen spread across 2500 square feet. It is located in Brooklyn, Massachusetts which is actually the test kitchen for the magazine, Cook’s Illustrated.

 

Format

 

America’s Test Kitchen is an out and out cookery show and a most watched show of this segment, across United States and Canada. The basic format of the show is just like that of any other cookery show featuring recipes, tips, etc. but the vital information provided on the show, in addition to innovative recipes is what makes it different from other shows in this category. The show has various segments such as Equipment Corner, Tasting Lab, Quick Tips, Science Desk, in addition to two or three recipes that are cooked.

The show is hosted by Christopher Kimball but a team of various other chefs actually demonstrate the cooking on the show. He introduces the recipes to be cooked on each episode, tests the equipments in the Equipment Corner and the food in the Tasting Lab. Kimball also individually presents the Quick Tips segment. Erika Bruce, Bridget Lancaster, Kay Rentschler, Julia Collin Davison, Sandra Wu, Yvonne Ruperti, J. Kenji Lopez Alt and Rebecca “ Becky ” Hays form the team of chefs who prepare the recipes in every episode, while Kimaball watches and comments. Not all of the chefs feature in each and every episode, but only one or two of them feature in a single episode. They may be permanent on every show of one particular season or be a part of a number of episodes picked at random.

Jack Bishop heads most of the episodes in the Tasting Lab segment. There is a tasting panel which tastes and notes its observations on various brands of a particular ingredient in question. Kimball then blind tastes one of the brands and provides his opinion. Bishop then reveals the brand which Kimball tasted and compares it with the observations and comments of the tasting panel.

Adam Ried appears in the Equipment Corner segment of most episodes, and tests different brands for a particular kitchen equipment. The food prepared using these different brands of the equipment in question, is tasted by Kimball. The segment then announces its verdict of the product which is a ‘Best Buy’ product.

John Doc Willoughby or Jeremy Sauer appear in Science Desk segments of the episodes. This segment explains the science behind the methods or techniques used in cooking the episode’s featured recipes.

 

Noteworthy Episodes

 

  • The first episode of America’s Test Kitchen was titled Crisps, Cobblers and Gratins, featuring the first three recipes of the famous show – Apple Crisp, Blueberry Cobbler and Raspberry Gratin.
  • A particular episode on Season 11 of America’s Test Kitchen, shows Christopher Kimball chatting and learning the tricks of making the perfect Empanada; with Chef Rick Bayless – owner of Frontera Grill.
  • One particular episode shows Julia Collins Davison demonstrate the perfect and the ultimate recipe of banana bread, which is “ the most banana-y banana bread of your dreams”.
  • One of the episodes in Season 11 shows a visit to Central Bottle wine store in Massachusetts, to select the red wine to be used in a beef stew. It sounds simple unless the whole episode is viewed. John Doc Willoughby shows how much effort goes into choosing the correct red wine for the authentic taste of Beef Stew. Finally Cotes du Rhone – which comes from a region close to Burgundy and Provence - was chosen the best red wine for its content of low tanines, a good amount of fruits which makes it not too sweet or dry, lends a fairly nice aroma, has herbal overtones and is comparatively cheaper than most other red wines.

 

Show Trivia

 

  • America’s Test Kitchen is also the name of the company which owns the show by the same name and the Cook’s Illustrated magazine in addition to several other television shows and cookbooks.
  • The company America’s Test Kitchen was formerly called Boston Common Press. It changed to its present name in the year 2004.
  • America’s Test Kitchen is a real kitchen with a full fledged pantry, tasting laboratory, and atleast 3 dozen cooks working part time or full time.
  • America’s Test Kitchen is aired across the United States as well as Canada.
  • Each recipe telecast on the show America’s Test Kitchen is tested 30, 40 and sometimes even 70 times to ensure consistency, before it is aired.
  • Kimball’s opinion of the ingredient tasted by him is mostly opposite to the observations of the tasting panel.
  • In the Tasting Lab segment, once Kimball picked up the Boston tap water over other brands of bottled water.
  • A video game called ‘ America’s Test Kitchen : Let’s Get Cooking ’ featuring 300 recipes, was released in March, 2010 for the Ninetendo DS, named after the show.
  • At the end of each season a Rice Krispie Treat competition is held followed by the Wrap Party in which the winner of the competition is announced.
  • Many of the episodes feature Kimball dressed up as the theme or the chief ingredient of the episode, such as a fairy god mother, a banana or even a peach!